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Airlift Review (2016)

A historical achievement enfeebled by poor film-making! Airlift is mediocre. Period.

Yes, we had a great plot in our baggage. A true story intended to pan out a biopic that could have turned heads, made some noise about the plight of 170000 stuck Indians in a warzone. An immaculate rescue operation that was so colossal that it lodged its name in the Guinness Book of World Records for being one of the largest evacuations of all times.

But what does Menon do with it? He changes facts, people, creates sheer fiction, rules out details, comes with a hand-woven shoddy script to replace the truth, places his own fake characters to enrich melodrama, throws in some songs in there to deliberately connect with the Indian audience, enforces unrealistic patriotism for emphasis, and squeezes in pointless unwanted tantrums to say the least.

SPOILERS AHEAD:

The movie begins by depicting the lavish life of the protagonist whilst noisily pointing out how little Katyal, a big fish in the Kuwait business suburbs, thought of his homeland. He had turned, as suggested by a brayed intentional laugh of his friends, more Kuwaitian than a Kuwaitian himself. These bits again seemed forced rather than appear natural so as to benefit the script.

Chaos depicted by some pathetic CGI bombing, tanks and helicopters raids manifest how little we have progressed in movie making. Third grade young actors chosen here try to scare you with guns and a foreign accent. They fail terribly at it. Their acts were excruciatingly unpromising as they try to kick someone lethargically on the butt, shoot people to nail in absent fear, make advances at young girls, or occasionally stop people for intimidating enquiry. Amidst all the mayhem Akshay Kumar cries which somehow doesn’t blend in with the unconvincing setup. Also, when he runs home to not discover his wife and child, whilst looking unperturbed by the snot lazily hanging from his nose (which seemed a very forceful shot by Menon BTW), really squeezed out acting from him, which pretty soon disappeared in its next impending frames. Menon tries to shoehorn drama in there which seemed more enacted to have ever reached a gut-wrenching point.

What was however quite endearing to watch was how the movie unfurls into better horizons from there as the protagonist starts taking effective measures to get the job done. The way the story oscillates with the ‘how’ is the crux of the flick. It however also tries to milk a character called George, played by Prakash Belawadi, depictive of a head that doesn’t work well with the mass. What it failed to cash on was its moniker. The fact that Air India flew over 488 air planes in a war-hit zone was humongous, but it was vaguely mentioned in a daft line by Akshay. True heroics get overshadowed right there.

After watching this you will miss Neeraj Pandey big time, or even hope the likes of Anurag Kashyap, Dibakar Banerjee or even the newcomer Neeraj Ghaywan to have picked this up. Airlift failed to engage and rivet us. The music couldn’t captivate us and there was hardly an adrenaline moment to keep our jaws wide open for long. To say that it even came close to the likes of Argo would be downright foolish.

Alas! the damage has been done. What you have is mediocre served on your platter! What could have turned into something phenomenal ends up being an average Indian mainstream movie. It is quite unfortunate that the Indian mass loves this kind of stuff. I would call it nothing but an average crowd entertainer.

Go with lesser expectations and you might enjoy it.

Titli Review (2015)

A ballsy attempt at the dirty dark!

Kanu’s Titli is an insane scrutiny into the head of a protagonist born in shambles. Surrounded by a filthy immoral environment that has affected his upbringing, Titli is a complex character breathing in a rotting muck with a dream.

The direction of Titli is one of the finest kinds. Behl spends ample amount of time on mundane things, captures mire gorgeously. He has caught the broken and the shattered perfectly. He literally walks behind the protagonist with a shaky camera to execute a well prepared live action drama to perfection. His frames are slow, and fade to the next ones with a purpose. He also incorporates great backdrops to complement his work. Little unnoticed things have been brought into the vanguard. Things that we see and forget quickly have been slapped on his frames. Like a spider dangling to the movie’s score, or an old tattered ceiling fan making every effort to breathe in a trampled house. He captures an entire developing city marvelously to insinuate how a lot of people are slaves to dreams like that of Titli’s.

The flick begins with Titli’s dream, in a parking lot of a mall. It focuses on how the lad is trying really hard to escape from the swamp he has been breathing in. Then comes the unfortunate incident that topples his life over. He finds himself at Ground Zero once again. His brethren marry him to a girl for advantage. The girl on the other hand brings another story with her. The whole plot is about pursuing his dream, tackling hell whilst doing so and his life being smacked between his dream and someone else’s.

The movie also compels you to think about the choices Titli takes at odd crucial hours. It lets you dive deep into the head of an abnormal person whose life had been nothing but chaos. There are a lot of things going in the skull of Titli, character exceptionally portrayed by Shashank Arora, and you can almost read him like a book. Lalit Behl’s character is that of an onlooker and a freeloader, a leech who doesn’t involve himself in anything and yet piggybacks to feed himself. As Titli, eventually calls him a ‘pig’ an apt

Some of the bits in the movie are downright outrageous. There is a lot of retching going on, which might disgust you beyond limit. When you see someone take up a hammer or a stick, you expect some badass bludgeoning, but alas this wasn’t put a proper thought to, and it looks more animated than real. Such places you can almost see through their acts.

Titli touches the thrilling dark which might give you the chills at times. It is scintillating at many junctures, fills you with sympathy and a plenty of times with disgust.

Another great thing about the movie is its exceptional cast. Their acting prowess is extremely engaging. Little unaffected acts that cover ’em up with profundity are quite delightful. Everyone is engulfed in their bits and that just nails the coffin perfectly. We surely can’t overlook Amit Sial’s bit in the movie. Ranvir Shorey is simply outstanding too.

The editing department of the flick could have seen some more cuts, since the movie ended up being lengthy.

Bottomline: Titli isn’t for everybody. If you are into dark cinema or wish to watch quality movies, go for it.